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Lancaster woman dies in firefight

OW Staff Writer | 3/4/2016, midnight
The inmate who died last week while battling a brush fire near Malibu was a Lancaster resident. Funeral services were ...

The inmate who died last week while battling a brush fire near Malibu was a Lancaster resident. Funeral services were pending this week for Shawna Lynn Jones, 22, who was killed when a boulder rolled off a 100-foot cliff and hit her head.

Family members said Jones had been jailed for either drug or fraud charges, and that she had volunteered for firefighter duty. State prison inmates who demonstrate good behavior have often been placed on camp crew rosters. Since 2014, however, there have been fewer state inmates to pick from, leading firefighters to accept prisoners serving their terms in county jails.

Jones apparently met the criteria, and then joined Fire Camp 13 on Encinal Canyon Road in the Malibu hills. Jones had been part of the crew since August and is the third inmate firefighter to die on a fire line since the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began its firefighting program in 1943.

More than 4,000 inmate firefighters are stationed throughout the state. The state trains inmate firefighters each summer in Tehama County, north of Sacramento, and teaches them safety, physical conditioning and firefighting techniques. It is not known if Jones completed such preparation, which includes a 4.2-mile hike in full firefighting gear, with a 75-minute deadline.